Blue Origin successfully sends tourists to the edge of space again after a long hiatus

Blue Origin successfully sends tourists to the edge of space again after a long hiatus

Cheyenne MacDonald

Blue Origin is back in the space tourism game. Jeff Bezos’ spaceflight company successfully flew six paying customers to the edge of space and back this morning, breaking its nearly two-year-long hiatus from crewed missions. This was Blue Origin’s seventh trip with humans on board. The mission — a quick jaunt to cross the Kármán line, or the boundary of space, about 62 miles above Earth — lifted off from the company’s Launch Site One in West Texas shortly after 10:30AM ET.

The six people inside the New Shepard crew capsule included 90-year-old Ed Dwight, a former Air Force Captain who was the first Black astronaut candidate when he was picked for the training program in 1961. He went through training but ultimately wasn’t selected for NASA’s Astronaut Corps, and never made it to space until now. Also on board were Mason Angel, Sylvain Chiron, Kenneth L. Hess, Carol Schaller and Gopi Thotakura. They were briefly able to unbuckle their seatbelts and experience zero gravity.

Blue Origin's crew capsule is seen descending to Earth with two parachutes deployed

The crew safely landed back on the ground about 10 minutes after launch. One of the capsule’s three parachutes didn’t properly deploy on the return trip, but this didn’t pose any problems for its touchdown thanks to the redundancies in the system that account for exactly that type of situation.

This was also the 25th mission for a New Shepard rocket. It last flew a crew in August 2022, but suffered a structural failure in its engine nozzle the following month during the launch of a payload mission and didn’t fly again at all until December 2023. It returned to flight then with another payload mission, making today’s launch its first with human passengers in almost two years.

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